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B737 @ Aberdeen

Old 6th Dec 2021, 14:17
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Originally Posted by Banana Joe View Post
Did it once on a Classic and the behaviour was not as advertised, the autopilot disconnected. I may give it a try again the next time.
The joy of the Classic, well it can do strange things.
It should drop into CWS, but of course if the A/P drops out, just get the PM to reprogram the MCP.

May be worth asking to to try it in the SIM when you get time, Next time I have time, i'll try it as well!!

The most important thing is not to panic of course.


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Old 7th Dec 2021, 14:07
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There is no doubt that a lack of currency played a major part in this incident,the fact that the aircraft was essentially out of control close to the ground makes us ask ,how this could happen?.I have never been an advocate of the move from 6 month checks to yearly ones as any cost benefit is outweighed by a dread/fear of passing your check .The simulator should be a booster to REINFORCING your competency .A standard two engine missed approach should now be regulated into recurrent training.The language could be changed to refer to "break off your approach,climb 3000,turn left heading etc either demonstrated or brought in by SOP that below a certain altitude say 1000,TOGA is applied ,whilst above other modes can and may be used.I remember this being practised as a result of a similar incident some years ago and I am saddened to see the message has been lost.Just a personal view from an old trainer.
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Old 7th Dec 2021, 15:12
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No need to change the language. From the AAIB bulletin:
At 2,600 ft amsl the aircraft was instructed by the radar controller to break
off the approach, climb to 3,000 ft and turn left onto a heading of 270°
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Old 7th Dec 2021, 17:36
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max alt said: .."standard two engine missed approach should now be regulated into recurrent training."

Yes, especially on non-FBW planes with underslung engines; where there is a large manual trim change requirement during the transition.
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Old 8th Dec 2021, 11:03
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max alt said: .."standard two engine missed approach should now be regulated into recurrent training."
It already is and has been for quite a few years now. If your operator is not doing it then they are not compliant with AMC1 ORO.FC.230


Last edited by BizJetJock; 8th Dec 2021 at 11:05. Reason: Screenshot not posted correctly.
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Old 8th Dec 2021, 12:49
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[QUOTE=Denti;11151611]Well, true in one way. Although even in the initial type rating and line training it was specifically flown to 200ft on two, click it off and land it. Yes, one has to be aware of the (unfortunate) trim, but it is very much manageable. In normal line life it was usually disengaged well before that, except for autolands of course, which both pilots could do whenever they wished to, on CAT III capable runways.

That said, the main culprit in many ways is, outside of EBT, the fact that there is the usual litany of standard stuff one has to do every simulator which is basically box ticking but does not really help all that much on the line. Like for example intermediate all engine go arounds, which are rarely if ever practiced.[/QUOTE



Am I being simplistic in reaction to this incident? Seems a lot of heads down and button pressing.
Was the HP incapable of disconnecting the automatics and smoothly applying enough thrust, ( ie push the thrust leavers forward and raise the nose) while making a gentle climb and turn to the requested heading and altitude. The NHP meantime resets the automatics to reengage the autopilot when required.

Last edited by cessnapete; 8th Dec 2021 at 12:59.
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Old 8th Dec 2021, 19:31
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Am I being simplistic in reaction to this incident? Seems a lot of heads down and button pressing.
Was the HP incapable of disconnecting the automatics and smoothly applying enough thrust, ( ie push the thrust leavers forward and raise the nose) while making a gentle climb and turn to the requested heading and altitude. The NHP meantime resets the automatics to reengage the autopilot when required.
There's almost no point stating the bleedin' obvious anymore. The only talk on this thread is about which way manipulating the automatics is easiest to get the job done. It's a patch work where something essential is missing! Adding a bit of thrust and raising the nose a couple of degrees is such basic instrument flying I am sure an early IR student would sort it out better... as he wouldn't even know how the automatics work.
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Old 8th Dec 2021, 20:07
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Of course the issue could have been saved both by competent manual flight as well as competent use of automatics albeit with some more work as it is after all a boeing. That said, in my experience in various airlines over the years, especially british based airlines do have quite a heavy focus on automation at all times, which i have not seen nearly as much in continental ones. Especially now after the pandemic to battle the perceived and real loss of flying skills, which in fact does not help there at all as it simply reinforces the loss of manual flying abilities.

That said, i had a similar situation just yesterday, go around from a fairly high altitude on approach into TLV (ordered by ATC due to a drone in the approach path), but in an A320. A complete non-event, push thrust levers to TOGA and pull them back into CLB, while the PM retracts the flaps by one step, no autopilot disconnect (but again, of course both autopilots were in, same as when i was flying the 737). In this case the aircraft design helped, but so did having done the same earlier in the year both in the simulator and on the line. So we climbed back the few hundred feet and then got vectored for an approach on another runway.
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Old 9th Dec 2021, 13:24
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I am not going to get into the "why fly on automatics, aren't you a real pilot" debate - there are plenty of valid reasons both for flying manually or with the automatics - but having to take manual control if something vaguely tricky comes up because the auto-pilot and the auto-thrust can't handle it is a poor option, and might explain why these things sometimes go wrong.

Please, Boeing, update your aircraft ! (And not with things like MCAS; it needs something decent).
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Old 9th Dec 2021, 13:49
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We all know the 737 needs a complete clean sheet redesign. I flown 737 2 3 4 7 and 8. Nice aircraft for its time ( the 200 series) .. since then it’s been ad ons to an old airframe. That being said, the 800 is a nice aircraft… but it could have been a excellent aircraft.
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Old 9th Dec 2021, 13:49
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My understanding is that wide bodies (and 757) are much better in terms of automatics. The only dinosaur in the room is the 737, including the MAX. Obviously I stand to be corrected on the 757/767.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 14:34
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Am I alone in becoming most uncomfortable at the ever-increasing tendency to blame the aircraft or manufacturer when pilots fail to manage long-established systems they are supposed to know and understand? Many aircraft have systems or procedures that may not appear to some to be logical or intuitive but are we not given specific training on how to operate these? Is this not why we are paid as pilots?

737 pilots are supposed to know their modes, selections and expected outcomes just as much as Airbus ones are; if a discontinued approach is managed in a different manner between the two is one of them wrong, or a 'worse' design? Why does one manufactureer 'need a complete clean sheet redesign' when it works just fine - as long as you use the right drills? There are even sniffy remarks above about the pitch-thrust couple in aircraft with underslung engines as though it is something so undesireable it needs designing out. (With what? Another MCAS type masking device? Is that really progress?). Is this really something that bothers modern pilots? If so it a very scary attitude, being phased by the simple inherentand benign charactersitics of your particular type. There seems to be an extraordinary mindset about nowadays that if something works less intuitively on one fleet than another then there is something wrong with the design. There's one helluva lot about Airbus that is very, very far from intuitive, and I'm not talking about the mangled and sometines incomprehensible language in the manuals.

If it takes 18 seconds to respond to an instruction to break off an approach in any type I respectfully suggest it isn't likely to be the aircraft or designer's fault. Had the crew been familiar with the correct procedure the manoeuvre would have started in maybe five seconds. The timescale implies they didn't. That is nothing to do with the manufacturer or the systems. It is an operator matter. What of it if the autopilot reverts temporarily to another mode? It presents no hazard, that's just the way the system works - but it does presuppose the pilots understand a) what is happeneing and b) what they are doing about it.

Boeing Bashing took on fever pitch over the MAX accidents which once again were caused in the immediate sense by just this, pliots who appeared lacking in their systems knowlege. It is all very well (and correct) to blame Boeing for providing the root of the problem but the nub of the matter durng the event was that both aircraft were perfectly flyable had the correct drills, not to mention the most basic of airmanship been applied. I can already hear the shrieks of fury at such herecy, but for all that it remains absolutely true.
Nonetheless, had the ABZ event ended in a smoking hole the Media and this forum too would, I assure you, be ablaze with the most wild and hysterical accusations of Corporate butchery and gross irresponsibility yada yada yada on Boeing's part for so misdesigning the autopilot (once again). That would neither be fair nor rational, but you can be assured it would have happned. But does the difference that no one was hurt make the design of an autopilot that has passed the rest of time reputation unsullied for decades suddenly a lethal trap? No it dosn't. So while not suggesting we ignore any shortcomings let's also not condemn something that actually works perfectly well as long as the operator understands it. Just like every other aspect of aviation you can think of.

I see this inclination to blame the designer as an extension of the Children of the Magenta Mind philosophy or mindset where pilots and commentators seem increasingly unable to deal with matters that the aircraft doesn't resolve or interpret itself, ie a reliance on pavlovian response to specific conditions/warnings without much if any analytical process to back things up where there isn't a Big Red Light that says "XYZ Failure" with the corresponding book-reference requiring "ABC" as response. ECAM is the ultimate example of a system that encourages this mindset, and indeed all but prevents independent action - that damn nearly caused the total loss of a 380 didn't it? Had that crew been merely pavlovian button-pushers they wouldn't have survived.

What we've lost here is something called "Airmanship" (anyone still remember Airmanship?). Knowing and understanding the how and why of your systems, not just which button to press. Knowing your drills and procedures. Thinking through all actions.
Noy relying in the damned autopilot to get you out of every pickle and blaming the manufacturer when it doesn't. We are clearly increasingly becoming reactive operators as oposed to proactive ones.

It isnt, imho, a healthy trend.

Last edited by meleagertoo; 10th Dec 2021 at 14:45.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 15:11
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo View Post
Am I alone in becoming most uncomfortable at the ever-increasing tendency to blame the aircraft or manufacturer when pilots fail to manage long-established systems they are supposed to know and understand? Many aircraft have systems or procedures that may not appear to some to be logical or intuitive but are we not given specific training on how to operate these? Is this not why we are paid as pilots?

737 pilots are supposed to know their modes, selections and expected outcomes just as much as Airbus ones are; if a discontinued approach is managed in a different manner between the two is one of them wrong, or a 'worse' design? Why does one manufactureer 'need a complete clean sheet redesign' when it works just fine - as long as you use the right drills? There are even sniffy remarks above about the pitch-thrust couple in aircraft with underslung engines as though it is something so undesireable it needs designing out. (With what? Another MCAS type masking device? Is that really progress?). Is this really something that bothers modern pilots? If so it a very scary attitude, being phased by the simple inherentand benign charactersitics of your particular type. There seems to be an extraordinary mindset about nowadays that if something works less intuitively on one fleet than another then there is something wrong with the design. There's one helluva lot about Airbus that is very, very far from intuitive, and I'm not talking about the mangled and sometines incomprehensible language in the manuals.

If it takes 18 seconds to respond to an instruction to break off an approach in any type I respectfully suggest it isn't likely to be the aircraft or designer's fault. Had the crew been familiar with the correct procedure the manoeuvre would have started in maybe five seconds. The timescale implies they didn't. That is nothing to do with the manufacturer or the systems. It is an operator matter. What of it if the autopilot reverts temporarily to another mode? It presents no hazard, that's just the way the system works - but it does presuppose the pilots understand a) what is happeneing and b) what they are doing about it.

Boeing Bashing took on fever pitch over the MAX accidents which once again were caused in the immediate sense by just this, pliots who appeared lacking in their systems knowlege. It is all very well (and correct) to blame Boeing for providing the root of the problem but the nub of the matter durng the event was that both aircraft were perfectly flyable had the correct drills, not to mention the most basic of airmanship been applied. I can already hear the shrieks of fury at such herecy, but for all that it remains absolutely true.
Nonetheless, had the ABZ event ended in a smoking hole the Media and this forum too would, I assure you, be ablaze with the most wild and hysterical accusations of Corporate butchery and gross irresponsibility yada yada yada on Boeing's part for so misdesigning the autopilot (once again). That would neither be fair nor rational, but you can be assured it would have happned. But does the difference that no one was hurt make the design of an autopilot that has passed the rest of time reputation unsullied for decades suddenly a lethal trap? No it dosn't. So while not suggesting we ignore any shortcomings let's also not condemn something that actually works perfectly well as long as the operator understands it. Just like every other aspect of aviation you can think of.

I see this inclination to blame the designer as an extension of the Children of the Magenta Mind philosophy or mindset where pilots and commentators seem increasingly unable to deal with matters that the aircraft doesn't resolve or interpret itself, ie a reliance on pavlovian response to specific conditions/warnings without much if any analytical process to back things up where there isn't a Big Red Light that says "XYZ Failure" with the corresponding book-reference requiring "ABC" as response. ECAM is the ultimate example of a system that encourages this mindset, and indeed all but prevents independent action - that damn nearly caused the total loss of a 380 didn't it? Had that crew been merely pavlovian button-pushers they wouldn't have survived.

What we've lost here is something called "Airmanship" (anyone still remember Airmanship?). Knowing and understanding the how and why of your systems, not just which button to press. Knowing your drills and procedures. Thinking through all actions.
Noy relying in the damned autopilot to get you out of every pickle and blaming the manufacturer when it doesn't. We are clearly increasingly becoming reactive operators as oposed to proactive ones.

It isnt, imho, a healthy trend.
Oh brilliant, another “things were better in my day when we could fly manually fly a back beam NDB whilst inverted, without spilling the coffee”, neglecting to mention that there used to be a crash a month. Commercial aviation has moved on, the aircraft have got more advanced and the training and focus is different. It doesn’t mean the pilots are any worse, they’re just using a different skillset and like it or not, aviation is safer as a result. Yes of course you should fully understand the aircraft you’re flying and it’s very much possible to fly a safe G/A in a 737, in the same way that many people very successfully landed a DC-10… there are just gotchas to be aware of. A more modern aircraft such as the 787 would have made that whole scenario considerably easier.

As for the 18 seconds, as others have mentioned that’s not a sign of an incompetent crew… but more likely the conduct of a mini-brief/refresher of what was going to happen, which many training departments encourage if time allows and the ATC instruction isn’t for an immediate G/A.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 15:45
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Zero, you nicely demonstrate my point about failing to assimilate a situation (ie reading what I wrote) by reacting in a pavlovian manner based on an unsupported assumption - viz your first sentence -
As for your last sentence, words almost fail me. 18 seconds to "brief" such a simple manoeuvre? That's one heck of a brief for a procedure that was then completely botched! Look at the timelines in the AAIB report. They don't indicate the actioning of any Boeing procedure I recognise, regardless of how ancient and senile you fondly imagine me to be. But then, I'm not jumping to wild conclusions or blindly following magenta lines, but trying to analyse the facts we all have in front of us.
I reccommend the process.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 16:19
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo View Post
Zero, you nicely demonstrate my point about failing to assimilate a situation (ie reading what I wrote) by reacting in a pavlovian manner based on an unsupported assumption - viz your first sentence -
As for your last sentence, words almost fail me. 18 seconds to "brief" such a simple manoeuvre? That's one heck of a brief for a procedure that was then completely botched! Look at the timelines in the AAIB report. They don't indicate the actioning of any Boeing procedure I recognise, regardless of how ancient and senile you fondly imagine me to be. But then, I'm not jumping to wild conclusions or blindly following magenta lines, but trying to analyse the facts we all have in front of us.
I reccommend the process.
For someone who's all about process, analysis and not jumping to wild conclusions you've made an awful lot of assumptions about the performance of the crew based on what is an interim report and therefore by definition, inconclusive
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 16:25
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Managing uncertainty

Nowadays it is rare for accidents or incidents to have a simple or dominant contribution (a very ‘safe’ industry), thus it necessary to consider a wide range of contributing factors, however unlikely.
More often, particularly with web based forums there is a tendency to reduce situations to black or white positions, and with hindsight conclude that ‘it’ was obvious. These reflect inherent human bias which may not help with the learning required for future operations.

An alternative approach is to consider what the crew did to recover from an unwanted condition, what were the factors which ‘switched on’ a change of plan, what differed from the situation commencing with a discontinued approach to that in recovering from an unintended flight path. Awareness, thoughts, actions, and the many influences on those, from wherever or whenever they originated.

Start by considering the crew as an asset, how they avoided an accident in that type of aircraft, at that airport - context; an everyday activity, operating in varied and changing circumstances. In such situations there may be no simple answer; many opinions, viewpoints, experiences (as in this thread), but not a ‘solution’. At best, aspects which might improve operations, but without assurance of success.

The need is for us to manage the uncertainties in operation, and the uncertainty of our thoughts, before, during, and after an event.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 20:07
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Erm, having studied the FDM data in Fig 2 of the AAIB report, I would suggest that this is a clear case of failing to realise that the AP didn't engage when the button was pressed.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 21:03
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Originally Posted by hec7or View Post
Erm, having studied the FDM data in Fig 2 of the AAIB report, I would suggest that this is a clear case of failing to realise that the AP didn't engage when the button was pressed.
How is that? Which part of Fig 2 shows the AP button being pressed?

Looks to me like AP engaged until the moment the N1 starts to increase, consistent with the pressing of TOGA and the associated disengagement on the AP for a single AP approach. Then it's re-engaged a bit later after the 'recovery' phase is complete

Last edited by zero/zero; 10th Dec 2021 at 21:21.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 21:51
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0/0 I admit it doesn't so on second thoughts and according to the graph, the AP was disengaged at the point of GA and not re-engaged until after the altitude was recovered as indicated in Fig 2, but the A/T remained engaged throughout. Looking at the trim inputs, it can be seen that the aircraft descended at the same time the main trim was commanded APND. This coincides with the increase in airspeed and looks like they may have experienced a somatogravic illusion akin to a pitch up.

Clearly if the crew were using main trim, then they knew the AP was not engaged.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 22:15
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Originally Posted by hec7or View Post
0/0 I admit it doesn't so on second thoughts and according to the graph, the AP was disengaged at the point of GA and not re-engaged until after the altitude was recovered as indicated in Fig 2, but the A/T remained engaged throughout. Looking at the trim inputs, it can be seen that the aircraft descended at the same time the main trim was commanded APND. This coincides with the increase in airspeed and looks like they may have experienced a somatogravic illusion akin to a pitch up.

Clearly if the crew were using main trim, then they knew the AP was not engaged.
I’m not an AAIB investigator and don’t pretend to be, but the nose down trim commands are entirely consistent within the airspeed increasing which is exactly where you’d expect them to be. The graphs don’t tell you how big the trims changes were or whether they were appropriate with the speeds, therefore literally impossible to draw any conclusions.

Last edited by zero/zero; 10th Dec 2021 at 22:33.
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